Coconut water sweetens sales

Sales of coconut water continue to soar. According to a recent report from Mintel, the U.S. market for coconut water was around $350 million in 2011, representing 2% of the total fruit juice and drinks sales. The report suggested that coconut water offers growth opportunity in an otherwise maturing fruit juice/drinks market; in all three outlets, coconut water sales grew by 165% to $59 million during 2010-2011.

“Coconut water has had strong gains, and it’s still in its infancy,” said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. Sicher expected the segment will grow in two ways — in its organic form and as an ingredient in other types of beverages. “It’s low in calories, has a natural sweetness and has hydrating properties, so I think we’ll see it added to other beverages,” he said.

Earlier this year, Vita Coco invested in a California-based beverage startup called Coco Café, which produces a ready-to-drink beverage of fresh coconut water and organic, fair-trade espresso with milk.

With less sugar than many other juice drinks, coconut water has great potential in the sports drink and kids segments. ONE Kids already has addressed the kids niche with waters in four flavors. Zico introduced a chocolate flavor that it plans to target to kids.